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Congressman Agrees With Caller: Fighting Obamacare Is Like Fighting Slavery | The Nation

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Lee Fang

Lee Fang

Investigating the intersection of politics, lobbying and public policy at RepublicReport.org.

Congressman Agrees With Caller: Fighting Obamacare Is Like Fighting Slavery


Congressman John Fleming. (Courtesy of John Fleming)

Congressman John Fleming, a conservative Republican who represents Louisiana’s northwest border with Texas, is one of the Tea Party members driving the shut down debacle over health reform.

Yesterday, he appeared on the Rusty Humphries radio show to discuss the shut down, and was welcomed to the program with a call from a listener, Nick. Nick had a question. Wasn’t the Republican effort to fight “slavery and segregation” in the past akin to the Republican effort against Obamacare today? The caller asked if Republicans are fighting for a similar “moral victory” against healthcare reform that was eventually achieved against slavery.

Fleming responded, “I think your caller is precisely correct.” The congressman went on to list his party’s demands.

The comparison between the Affordable Care Act and slavery is not &ldquot;precisely correct.&rdquot; Healthcare reform vastly benefits communities of color, who disproportionately make up America’s low-income families who will qualify for Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion. The law also invests billions into urban health centers and public health programs designed to help ethnic communities obtain quality care.

Of course, Fleming and the caller also have a curious view of history. It was Democrats, joined by moderate, largely Northern Republicans, who ended legal segregation with President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Notably, it was in Fleming’s district that another government shut down occurred in 1873. In Colfax, Louisiana, an area now part of Fleming’s district, marauding conservative white militias violently overthrew politicians, massacring freed blacks and local soldiers. Their goal was to disenfranchise black citizens of Louisiana and to end Reconstruction, the post–Civil War effort to integrate freed slaves into society.

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Listen to the interview here:

Partial transcript:

CALLER: Yeah I’m hearing a lot of criticism from the left, talking about how “Obamacare’s now the law of the land, you Republicans need to just get on board.” Yeah, but slavery and segregation used to be the law of the land. They had the stamp of approval from the Supreme Court and they passed the Senate and the House. But they were wrong. They were immoral. Republicans were the ones who kept fighting against it, and that was a big moral victory. We won. Republicans did the right thing, and we’re just doing the same thing. But now, now it’s a black president so now you’re racist because you’re actually trying to get something done that’s good for the economy.

RUSTY HUMPHRIES: Nick, you make a great point.[…]

CONGRESSMAN FLEMING: Well I think your caller is precisely correct. Whenever there’s a bad law, it can be repealed or nullified.

Update: Last week, Fleming said the Affordable Care Act was the "worst law in history" on CNN. "Going back to legislation that approved slavery ... this is even more dangerous than that?" asked host Wolf Blitzer. "Yes. Yes. This affects millions," Fleming responded, according to a transcript.

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